Rt. Rev. Barbara Harris (the first woman bishop in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion) preached a stirring sermon in which she excoriated those, both conservative and progressive, who think that somehow they are more acceptable to God than others. God has no favorites and we could all use a ‘do-over’ in our lives, she said. The true division is between the sacred and the profane: the sacred is that which is centered on God and the profane is that which is not.
Turning to B033, Bishop Harris says it needs to be superseded by something positive that recognizes the dignity of all human beings. If the Church honestly believes that LGBT people should not be bishops, she said, then don’t ordain them deacons. ‘Better still be honest… don’t bestow on them the blessing of baptism…. How can you initiate someone and then treat them like some half-assed baptized?’
After touching on civil marriage and the need to counter hate crimes, Bishop Harris concluded by reminding us once again that God has no favorites – whoever fears God and does what is right is acceptable.
During the Prayers of the People three groups were invited to come to the center of the circular worship space to receive a blessing; lay leaders of the LGBT community, members of LGBT families and couples, married and covenanted and finally all those clergy who are currently barred from becoming bishops because of their sexual orientation.
Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson (the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion) was at his best as he led us in a deep expression of worship in an inclusive liturgy which emphasized baptism and included a gospel procession with asperges which weaved around the ballroom accompanied by banners and torches.
Both Bishop Robinson and Susan Russell welcomed Bishop Browning who when elected Presiding Bishop in 1985 in Anaheim promised ‘there will be no outcasts in this church’.
Watch the sermon livestreamed at the General Convention Media Hub at http://gchub.episcopalchurch.org/